Even at the time, signing Kobe Bryant to a two-year extension worth $48 million before he could show how well he might recover from a torn ACL didn’t seem to make much sense from a purely on-court, basketball production perspective. And according to Jack Fischer of Bleacher Report in his new book, “Built To Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever,” the Lakers could possible have kept Bryant at half the price and kept them in the running for LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, both of whom had real interest in signing in L.A. at the time.
What’s interesting even beyond that hypothetical is not only how that contract obviously precluded the Lakers from landing those two other superstars in that fateful summer of 2014, but also might have helped eventually sign James all these years later.
Jim Buss, Light Beers Ahead.
On this week’s episode of “The Anthony Irwin Show,” Fischer joined to discuss that fascinating what-if, as well as a ton more.
Fischer’s book takes a trip through the phenomenon of tanking and how, over the years, it’s become increasingly accepted as a means of roster building — to the point where bottoming out for high draft picks became so pervasive that the NBA instituted lottery reform and a play-in tournament in an effort to get teams to, you know, try to win games.
After that broader discussion on tanking, Fischer and I then had some fun looking back at the Lakers’ attempts at it, which, according to Fischer, weren’t necessarily intentional. This includes maybe the highlight of the show, in which Fischer tells me that D’Angelo Russell called Byron Scott an idiot on the record.
Finally, we wrap up the show by looking ahead to the offseason yet to come and whether, according to people he’s spoken to, Fischer thinks it will be a busy summer. A quick glance at all the coaching vacancies would indicate that, yes, this summer will follow suit with the last few and provide plenty of fireworks.
You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can also buy Jake’s book here.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.